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Requesting surveys of EMF emissions from mobile base stations

05 October 2020

This page provides information about Ofcom's surveys of radiofrequency electromagnetic field (EMF) emission levels near to mobile base stations. It also explains how you can request to have a survey carried out.

The purpose of the surveys is to verify that EMF emissions in specific locations around mobile base stations are within the levels for general public exposure identified in the guidelines set out by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

In the UK, Public Health England* takes the lead on public health matters associated with EMF emissions, or radio waves, and has a statutory duty to provide advice to Government on any health effects that may be caused by exposure to EMF emissions. PHE’s main advice is that EMF emissions should comply with the ICNIRP guidelines.

Ofcom is responsible for managing the use of radio spectrum in the UK. We take PHE’s advice into account, as appropriate, in our management of the radio spectrum.

* On 18 August 2020, the Government announced the creation of the National Institute for Health Protection. This will bring together Public Health England, NHS Test and Trace and the analytical capability of the Joint Biosecurity Centre under a single leadership team. The organisation will be formalised and be operating from Spring 2021.

Background to the surveys

In response to a Government request following the May 2000 report from the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP), Ofcom and its predecessor, the Radiocommunications Agency (RA), conducted a nationwide programme of EMF measurements (between 2001 and 2012) showing that emission levels from mobile phone base stations in locations such as schools and hospitals were at very small fractions of the levels for general public exposure identified in the ICNIRP guidelines.

Though the programme was primarily focused on schools and hospitals, requests for EMF surveys in any locations where there was unrestricted public access and concern about signal levels were considered.

After the nationwide measurement campaign finished in 2012, Ofcom continued to carry out EMF surveys in response to requests from schools, hospitals and members of the public. The results of these surveys continued to show that EMF levels from mobile phone base stations were at very small fractions of the levels identified in the ICNIRP guidelines.

In 2020 we published the results (PDF, 553.7 KB) of a nationwide EMF measurement campaign where we took EMF measurements from areas close to mobile base stations using 5G technology. While all the frequency bands now in use by mobile phone base stations have been used for various services for many years, our previous EMF measurements had not included the specific frequency bands now being rolled out by mobile operators for 5G. These results again showed that, at all locations where we conducted measurements, the EMF levels were at small fractions of the levels identified in the ICNIRP guidelines.

How to request a survey

The EMF surveys are a chargeable service. The charge is currently £1,000 (excluding VAT). Subject to resource availability, a survey may be provided free of charge in response to direct requests from schools and hospitals. However, if a mast is installed on the same site and the school or hospital is receiving funding for it, a charge will apply.

These EMF surveys are not intended for holders of Wireless Telegraphy Act licences to check whether their radio equipment may be within the limits for general public exposure identified in the ICNIRP guidelines.

To apply to have a survey conducted, please email deo@ofcom.org.uk with your name, the location you would like us to survey (including postcode), and your preferred contact details so we can get in touch with you to discuss your requirements.

Survey results

Survey results will be provided to the person requesting the measurements and certain information relating to survey results will, at our discretion, be made available on Ofcom’s website. The name of the person requesting the measurements is not published and we will also avoid the publication of the exact address of the location where the measurements were carried out if requested.

All published results to date are available on the Ofcom website.

Further information

Background information about mobile phones and other business communications technologies is available on Ofcom’s website.